Close icon
Close icon

Executive Team

The Executive Team (ET) comprises An tUachtarán and the senior officers of Mary Immaculate College, and is responsible for the operational management of the College. The President is the Chairperson of the Executive Team. The members of the ET are appointed by An tUachtarán who is responsible for formally advising An tÚdarás Rialaithe of the composition of the ET and of any changes to it, which may occur from time to time.

The ET, through An tUachtarán, is accountable to An tÚdarás Rialaithe and its subcommittees. An tUachtarán, together with the ET, is responsible for the operational management of the College and may appoint such management advisory group or groups and committees as they deem appropriate from time to time, to advise them in this role. Along with the seven member core management team, a number of other senior staff members make up the Executive Team.

Professor Eugene Wall graduated from UCD in 1975 with a degree in psychology. He was awarded a UCD postgraduate scholarship and undertook a research MA in the field of developmental psycholinguistics. He qualified as a primary teacher from Froebel College and taught part-time in several third-level institutions in Dublin prior to moving to Limerick in 1980. In 2001, he qualified from UCD with a PhD in Education.

Eugene taught developmental psychology and educational psychology in Mary Immaculate College from 1980 to 1998. For the latter part of that time, he was also Assistant Dean Academic Affairs in the College of Education of the University of Limerick. Following appointment to the role of Registrar/Vice-President Academic Affairs in 1998, he continued to lecture part-time on the B Ed programmes and the M Ed programme on educational psychology and on educational policy issues.

He served for 21 years on the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and was a member of several of its sub-committees over that time, including the Co-ordinating Committee, which was responsible for overseeing the development of the 1999 primary school curriculum. He chaired the Councils Primary Assessment Advisory Group. Eugene is co-author of the MICRA-T and the SIGMA-T, the two most widely used standardised tests in Irish primary schools.

Eugene was the founding Chairperson of the Learning Hub, which works in partnership with local education providers, families and young people to develop and implement practical and solution focused responses to the high levels of educational disadvantage and early school leaving experienced by local communities on the north-side of Limerick City.

He was President of the Irish Federation of University Teachers from 1994-1997 during which time IFUT played a key role in shaping the 1997 Universities Act. Following this, he was appointed for a three-year term to the Higher Education Sectoral Committee of Education International.

Eugene was appointed to the post of President of MIC in May 2018.

Prof. Niamh Hourigan is a Sociologist and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Mary Immaculate College.

As Vice-President of Academic Affairs, she is responsible for managing the academic activity of MIC and maintaining intellectual quality of the institution’s teaching and research. She also oversees a range of functions across the College including Student Academic Administration, Student Life, Teaching and Learning as well as Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Interculturalism.

She is currently a member of the Teaching Council, a member of the Board of the Central Applications Office (CAO) and a member of the Irish Department of Justice’s Review Team of Civil Legal Aid. Prior to her appointment at MIC, she served as Head of Department of Sociology at University College Cork. She began her academic career as Course Director of the BA Economic and Social Studies at NUI Galway.

Prof. Hourigan has worked for four Irish universities and has published widely on a variety of themes including value change, minority cultures, education, corruption, crime, and community violence. She has led research projects funded by the Irish Aid, Universities Ireland, and the Irish Research Council. Her sole authored books include Rule-breakers: Why ‘being there’ trumps ‘being fair’ in Ireland (Gill and Macmillan, 2015) and Escaping the Global Village: Media, Language and Protest (Lexington Books, 2003, 2004). She has also edited several texts: Understanding Limerick: Social Exclusion and Change (Cork University Press, 2011), Minority Language Media: Concepts, Critiques and Case Studies (with Mike Cormack, Multilingual Matters, 2007) and Social Movements and Ireland (Manchester University Press, 2006 with Linda Connolly).

Her PhD, which focused on minority language nationalism, was highly commended under the European Union Committee of the Region’s Doctoral Thesis Prize Competition. In 2010, she co-authored The TEACH Report (Traveller Education and Adults: Crisis, Challenge and Change) with Dr. Maria Campbell which mapped challenges faced by young Mincéirs (Irish Travellers) in the Irish education system. In 2011, she received the UCC CACSSS Special Research Commendation Award for her ethnographic research on organized crime and community violence in Ireland.

She has served as editor of the Irish Journal of Sociology and chaired the Editorial Committee of Cork University Press. Having worked as a journalist and radio presenter while completing her PhD, she is a frequent contributor to the Irish media on themes of sociological interest.

Prof. Hourigan's Twitter account.

Mr Michael J Keane was born in Limerick and educated at Clongowes Wood College. He graduated from UCD in 1989 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and then worked as an articled clerk with Coopers & Lybrand accountants (now PWC). He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1993 with the firm and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

From 1993 to 1995 he worked for the relief and development agency GOAL in Sudan and the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. On returning to Ireland he joined Shannonside Oil Co Ltd. an oil distributor servicing the mid-west region as Financial Controller. In 2000, he became Managing Director of Shannonside Oil. 

Michael studied with the Trinity College / Irish Management Institute during 2009 and 2010 earning a Master's of Science (Management) degree. In 2013, he joined Mary Immaculate College as Director of Finance and served in this role for three years. He also completed the TMP programme with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education during this time.

In 2016, he was appointed Vice President Administration and Finance at the College. He is part of the College Executive Team, Audit and Risk Committee, Finance and Resource Committee and Equality Committee. He is also a Board member of the Lime Tree Theatre.

Outside of Mary Immaculate College, Michael also sits on the Board and Audit and Finance Committee of Adapt Services in Rosbrien, Limerick. He lives in Ardnacrusha, Co Clare with his family and maintains a strong interest in local sports in particular rugby, swimming and triathlon. 

Professor Gary O’Brien was appointed Associate Vice-President of Administration at Mary Immaculate College in September 2007.

This post involves responsibility for the operation of the College Boards including An Bord Rialaithe (the Governing Body), An Bord Acadúil (the Academic Council) and the Executive Team, as well as the Board of Trustees and the various standing committees of the College. The Associate Vice President Administration is a member of the Executive Team and An Bord Acadúil. Gary is responsible for strategic and operational planning, policy development, ICT operations, Corporate Communications, Quality Assurance, and external reporting.

Prior to his appointment, Gary O’Brien lectured in international history and politics at University College Cork and the University of Limerick. He was awarded an academic scholarship in American Studies by the University of Limerick in 1996 and in 2001 he was conferred with a PhD, by UL, for research into the history of American diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

He has also worked in the local development sector and was Research & Evaluation Officer at PAUL Partnership Limerick between 2002 and 2007 where his responsibilities included analysis of social exclusion issues, strategic planning, and policy development.

Professor Michael Healy is the Vice-President for Research at Mary Immaculate College. He graduated with a BA and a MA from University College Cork, and completed a
H Dip Ed before going on to study for his PhD from the National University of Ireland. As a Physical Geographer, his doctoral research focused on Holocene relative sea-level recovery in southwest England, and his subsequent research work concentrated primarily on paleo-environmental reconstruction of coastal environments and coastal zone management.

He has been published in international peer reviewed journals as well as being editor of a number of books. He is a peer reviewer for international journals including Marine Geology and the Journal of Coastal Research. He has held a number of roles as External Examiner and Moderator for postgraduate programmes and theses. Having lectured in Ireland and in the United Kingdom, he joined Mary Immaculate College as Lecturer in Physical Geography. He went on to hold a number of academic administrative posts at MIC in areas focusing on the growth of postgraduate research programmes and academic research development, before becoming Associate Vice President and then Vice President for Research. He has held various national and international roles with funding agencies and acts as an EU Commission Evaluator for such programmes as FP7 and Horizon 2020.

Located in the John Henry Newman Campus, the Office of the Vice-President for Research comprises the Research Office and the Graduate School at MIC, generally referred to as the Research & Graduate School or RGS. As well as being a member of the MIC Executive Team and the Shannon Consortium Implementation Group, the Vice-President for Research oversees all aspects of the RGS and directs the formulation and implementation of the research and postgraduate elements of the MIC Strategic Plan and coordinates research policy. The Vice-President chairs the Research Committee of the Academic Council, and oversees central research support and administrative services for research activities.

Originally from Tipperary town but more recently based in Galway, Prof. McIlrath is the inaugural Director of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Interculturalism at MIC.

From 2004 to 2020, Prof. McIlrath coordinated the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) that was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where she was responsible for developing inclusive approaches to civic engagement across the University.  She founded and was Principal Investigator of Campus Engage, the national Irish network to support civic engagement within higher education, and funded originally by the Higher Education Authority. She developed the Youth Academy, a mini-university for 10-12 years olds in need of academic challenge at NUI Galway, working in particular with educational disadvantage. She supported the opening of a new community café based at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS) called Saol Cafe as a partnership giving people marginalised from employment an opportunity to work. She has managed the development of the University of Sanctuary movement at NUI Galway and attained the official designation in 2019.  This initiative supports refugees and asylum seekers to transition to and succeed at the University.

Prof. McIlrath has led, and been involved in, a number of EU and internationally funded partnerships to look at the advancement of tools, research and pedagogies that support equality, diversity, inclusion and interculturalism. She was the Irish lead for the pilot of the Carnegie Foundation Framework for Community Engagement in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston and Merrimack College, supported by the Ireland Funds and Tufts University. She co-led the Tawasol Project that focused on service learning in the Arab World as a tool to enable intercultural communication; the creation of the British Council’s College of Multicultural Education in Sochi, Russia; and the recently funded Steering Higher Education for Community Engagement (SHEFCE) Project that aims to develop societal impact tools for institutions of higher education. 

She spent a decade in Northern Ireland at the Ulster University’s UNESCO Centre for pluralism, human rights and democracy, teaching courses on the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process, developing curricular opportunities for Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU) for primary schools and Local and Global Citizenship with CCEA and DENI for Key Stage 3.

Prof. McIlrath has published on the broad theme of civic engagement and the public good role of higher education in books and journals and has keynoted on her work internationally.  She serves on a number of boards including the Talloires Network, Galway Chamber of Commerce (non-executive Director), Campus Engage (Chair), SCCUL Enterprises (non-executive Director), University Women’s Network (Co-Chair), Universities of Sanctuary Ireland, and St Vincent de Paul Croi na Gallimhe Resource Centre (non-executive Director).  She has volunteered extensively with several community-based organisations including Cope Galway, Chernobyl Children’s Project, local homework and sporting clubs. 

Professor Emer Ring is Dean of Education at Mary Immaculate College (MIC). Emer worked as a senior inspector with the Department of Education and Skills, a primary mainstream class teacher and a learning/support resource teacher, prior to joining MIC as Head of Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies in 2011. Emer lectures across early childhood and teacher education programmes and supervises research from undergraduate to doctorate levels.

Emer has been principal investigator on a range of national research projects covering areas such as early childhood, primary and post-primary education, inclusion, child/student voice, pedagogy and autism. She has published widely in the area of education and is co-editor and co-author of ‘Autism from the Inside Out: A Handbook for Parents, Early Childhood, Primary, Post-Primary and Special School Settings’ published by Peter Lang, Oxford.

More recently, with her colleagues, Dr Lisha O’Sullivan, Marie Ryan and Patrick Burke, Emer completed ‘A Melange or a Mosaic of Theories? How Theoretical Perspectives on Children’s Learning and Development can Inform a Responsive Pedagogy in a Redeveloped Primary School Curriculum’ for the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). Emer is currently joint-principal investigator on the University College Cork (UCC) and MIC research team, which includes MIC’s Dr Lisha O’Sullivan and Dr Therese Brophy, evaluating the in-school therapy demonstration project across early years, primary, post-primary and special school settings commissioned by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

Prof. William Leahy joined MIC as Dean of Arts on 1 September 2021. Professor Leahy joined MIC from Brunel University London where he was Vice Provost for Students, Staff and Civic Engagement. Previously he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs and Civic Engagement) and Head of the School of Arts (now College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences).

Prof. Leahy’s early research specialised in Shakespeare and Elizabethan Processions. His particular interests have been the role and representation of the common people in Elizabethan and Shakespearean literature. He has published widely on both Shakespeare and early modern spectacle, culminating in a book entitled Elizabethan Triumphal Processions. Prof. Leahy’s research has also focused on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, most notably in his edition of collected essays Shakespeare and his Authors: Critical Perspectives on the Authorship Question.

Dr Geraldine Brosnan is Director of Student Life and Senior Lecturer at MIC. In her role as Director, Geraldine has responsibility for providing strategic leadership and bringing operational cohesion to the broad area of student life at the College . Her research focuses on higher education policy and practice. In 1999, Geraldine joined the staff of MIC to develop an Academic Learning Centre (ALC) with the remit of supporting adult learners in their transition to tertiary-level studies. Over the years, the ALC has expanded its remit and now supports over 2,500 students annually. The ALC also provides academic writing seminars on all undergraduate degree programmes and inputs on many post-graduate courses. The ALC co-ordinates a number of access initiatives, in particular the Foundation Certificate for Adult Learners which has been very successful at upskilling adults and facilitating progression to undergraduate studies. In addition to sitting on Executive Team at MIC, Geraldine serves on numerous committees including Academic Council, Equality Committee, Quality Committee, Faculty Boards, Academic Programme Approval Committee and chairs the Student Wellbeing Committee.

Dr Maeve Liston is the Director of Enterprise & Community Engagement at Mary Immaculate College. In this position Dr Liston is responsible for widening access to our estate and increasing the range of campus facilities available for social, cultural and municipal engagement by our community and organising events in MIC that are of local, regional and national importance in collaboration with external stakeholders in the region. She provides leadership, within our core competency domains, in collaborative initiatives, establishing new learning relationships with our neighbouring communities that helps transfer our knowledge capital to local and community development settings instead of within the campus boundaries.

In her role she manages, designs and delivers a wide variety of different programmes on creativity, innovations and problem solving in the areas of entrepreneurial education, 21st century skills needs and careers, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) with a wide variety of key stakeholders in enterprise and industry . For example Entrepreneurship Summer Programmes, STEM Fairs, Festivals and a wide variety of outreach activities, Robotics, Coding and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) Programmes.

Maeve studied BSc (Ed) in Biological Sciences with chemistry at the University of Limerick (UL) receiving a first class honours degree. She was awarded the title of ‘Advanced Scholar’ by UL for her academic achievements and successfully obtained the highly prestigious IRCSET Post Graduate Scholarship completing her Doctor of Philosophy in Science in the Department of Life Sciences, also at UL.

Dr Liston is also Senior Lecturer in Science Education at MIC. She has extensive experience in teaching science and science education at all levels in education (primary, second and third level). She lectures at undergraduate and postgraduate level (Graduate Diploma Master's, PhD.). She has been directly involved with the training of primary level and second level science teachers for many years in Mary Immaculate College and at the University of Limerick (UL).

Frank White is the Director of Human Resources at Mary Immaculate College, a post he has held since September 2014. 

Frank is a graduate of Waterford Institute of Technology and prior to taking up appointment at MIC, worked for 18 years in the public health services, where he held a number of positions including that of Human Resources Manager at St. Johns Hospital, Limerick.

Frank is a member of the College’s Executive Team and the Equality Committee and is Chair of the Health and Safety Committee.  He is also MIC’s representative on the Athena SWAN Ireland Committee.

Ms Lara Doris is the Director of Finance at Mary Immaculate College, a post she has held since 2016.  The Director of Finance has responsibility for MIC finance operations, risk management, compliance, reporting, planning and analysis, procurement and pensions.

Director of Finance is a member of the Executive Team and attends the Finance & Resource Committee and the Audit & Risk Committee.

Lara is originally from Laois and now lives in Clare. Following graduation from UCD with a Bachelor of Commerce degree she completed a Higher Diploma in Professional Accounting in UCD and trained as a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse (now PWC). During her training period she worked on the audits of a number of large multinational clients of PWC in Dublin, New York and Chicago.

Lara moved to Chicago to work for The Irish Dairy Board as Assistant Corporate Controller for two years and travelled the US providing financial oversight and guidance to six subsidiaries, including the due diligence and onboarding of a new subsidiary. She moved to San Francisco to work for AirTouch Communications (now Vodafone AirTouch) for four years in a number of roles in cellular finance operations and software systems planning & analysis.

On returning to live in Ireland, Lara held a number of financial controller roles in multinational finance, hospitality and community services. Her most recent role prior to joining MIC was as financial controller of Clare Education Centre for five years.  This role had responsibility for the finance operations of Centre; the financial management of 100s of annual CPD programmes for teachers, four Professional Development Services for Teachers (PDST) national programmes, and a number of Erasmus funded programmes; and involvement in the establishment of The Centre for School Leadership (CSL).

Lara is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland and is currently completing a MSc in UCC in Personal and Management Coaching.

Dr Katherine Whitehurst is the Director of Teaching and Learning and a Senior Lecturer at MIC. She has worked in Higher Education in Canada, Scotland, England and Ireland. In her role as Director, Katherine works to strengthen the practices of teaching, learning, assessment and feedback in the college. She is the head of the Learning Enhancement and Academic Development (LEAD) centre, where she oversees a team of academics and technical experts in the delivery of digital learning PD, resources and support. Katherine contributes to various committees within the college including Executive Team, Academic Council, T&L Directorate, Quality Committee, ICT Services Committee, Faculty Boards and Academic Programme Approval Committee. Katherine also a member of external organisations including the National Forum, NAIN, Educational Developers in Ireland Network (EDIN) and Advance HE. She contributes to the Shannon Regional Consortium as a representative group member. 


Prior to her appointment at MIC, Katherine lectured in the field of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Liverpool in the Department of Communication and Media. During this time, Katherine’s research centered on fairy tales; child, youth and age studies; screen and literature; feminism; and gender. Her recent publications include the journal articles ‘Youth Films and the Nation: Imagining Obama's American Foreign Policy in Disney’s Moana' (Narrative Culture, 2021), 'Genre and Female Ageing in Two Contemporary Filmic Adaptations of “Snow White”' (Age, Culture, Humanities, 2019), 'Growing up in Magical Time: Representations of Female Growth and Development in ABC’s Once Upon a Time’ (Narrative Culture, 2018) and ‘The Aged Woman as Spectre in Two Filmic Adaptations of Snow White’ (Marvels and Tales, 2019) as well as the book chapter ‘Stories of Motherhood and Ageing in ABC’s Television Programme Once Upon a Time’ in Schrage-Frueh et al. (eds.) Ageing Women in Literature and Visual Culture (Palgrave, 2017). Katherine recently completed a book for the Routledge Cinema and Youth Cultures Series, entitled: Precious: Identity, Adaptation and the African American Youth Film. 


Katherine joined the University of Liverpool from, the University of Stirling, where she completed her PhD and taught in Media and Cultural Studies. Prior to working in media studies, Katherine taught at Brock University in English Literature and Culture.